A Tour of the Spice Islands with special guest speakers Amitav Ghosh and Deborah Ghosh Baker

31 October - 9 November 2024 | 9 Nights / 10 Days

Few areas can match the rich cultural, historical and natural diversity found charting the Banda Islands. One day alone can promise it all: colonial history, quiet coastal villages, emerald seas, colourful marketplaces, breathtaking vistas and an underwater world of exquisite beauty.

And few authors are better matched to a life-changing adventure on the high seas than award-winning bestseller, Amitav Ghosh and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Deborah Baker. In their company, this exclusive expedition will acquire an intimate literary lustre.

Days spent snorkelling, beachcombing and trekking through nutmeg plantations in some of the most beautiful, remote destinations of Indonesia. Star-lit evenings of readings, talks, thoughtful conversations will follow. Twilight drinks on the deck will find you dipping into topics ranging from writing narratives to colonial history and storytelling; all swept along by the gentle currents of the Banda Sea. Daytime will see cooking classes presented by Janet DeNeefe featuring nature’s ocean bounty, focusing on the healing property of spices. For the culinary enthusiast, Indonesian meals from the Casa Luna kitchen will grace the table, as well as, freshly baked sourdough, homemade tempe and house-made yoghurt. No matter what you see, taste, or think on this exclusive nine-night, ten-day adventure: you won’t forget a thing. It will be the trip of a lifetime.

The cruise will take place after the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, from October 31 – November 9, 2024, for ten days and nine nights. Bookings are strictly limited.

Amitav Gosh

Amitav Ghosh is an acclaimed Indian author known for his novels exploring themes of history, culture, and climate change. With a diverse literary background, Ghosh’s work has received international acclaim and numerous awards. His thought-provoking storytelling and insightful observations continue to resonate with readers worldwide. In his recent book, The Nutmeg’s Curse, Amitav Ghosh intricately weaves a tale set in the Banda Islands, exploring the dark history of colonial exploitation and the impact of the spice trade. Ghosh’s vivid storytelling brings to life the rich cultural tapestry and turbulent history of the region.

Deborah Ghosh Baker

Pulitzer-prize nominee, Deborah Ghosh Baker is a talented writer with a passion for highlighting diverse voices and untold narratives. Drawing inspiration from her multicultural background, Baker’s work often explores themes of identity, belonging, and resilience. Her engaging storytelling style and commitment to social justice have garnered recognition and praise, making her a respected voice in the literary world.

Itinerary: A Tour of the Spice Islands with special guest speakers Amitav Ghosh and Deborah Ghosh Baker, 31 October – 9 November

Join Janet DeNeefe on an adventure to the fabled spice islands, from Ambon to Banda Neira, Eastern Indonesia. We sail on a teak Phinisi Boat and spend 9 unspoiled days trekking, snorkelling, exploring, swimming, dining and absorbing the history of this fascinating part of Indonesia.
Day 1 | Denpasar – Ambon

We fly together from Denpasar to Ambon and check into Natsepa Hotel near the port of Tulehu. After resting at the hotel, we enjoy a dinner feast of local Maluku food on the terrace at the Natsepa restaurant.

Day 2 | Ambon City Tour

We explore the bustling market of Tulehu and see Maluku ingredients from papaya flowers, sago and lemon basil to green tomatoes, wild starfruit and fresh fish. Morning tea in the city is enjoyed at the legendary café, Cibu-Cibu, followed by a tour of the Ambon War Cemetery and a statue of young freedom fighter, Christina Tiahahu.

A long table lunch at a local Ambon restaurant follows, with a Feast of traditional Maluku dishes, such as papaya flowers, braised fish broth and seafood. After our meal we board our ship and set sail across Ambon Bay towards the open seas sharing stories, sipping cocktails and feasting on Indonesian snacks.


Day 3 | Saparua

We explore Saparua Island, a former Dutch stronghold in colonial times and home of renowned Indonesian national hero, Kapitan Pattimura. The historic Fort Duurstede, located in the heart of Saparua, was established by the Dutch East Indies Company in 1691 and is now a small museum that tells a tale of colonial rule and freedom fighters.

We visit the village market to buy provisions for dinner and then see traditional sago cakes being made. A cooking class on deck follows. The cocktail hour includes a discussion about the region’s history, and then, a lavish dinner under the stars will be presented by Janet DeNeefe and the team.


Day 4 | Rhun Island

We land on the fabled island of Rhun, made famous in Nathaniel’s Nutmeg.

Once a major producer of nutmeg during the colonial era, the spice trade on Rhun Island was lucrative but marked by exploitation and conflict. The demand for nutmeg led to fierce competition among European powers, shaping the island’s history and economy. Pulau Rhun was traded for Mahattan in the famous Treaty of Breda.

On Rhun we are greeted by Bapak Burhan, head of Rhun’s only school, who will lead us to the island’s hillside nutmeg plantation and the ruins of Nathaniel Courthope’s cottage. Morning tea of local sweets will be served with nutmeg juice and aromatic coffee.

Snorkelling nearby will follow.

At dusk, we arrive in Banda Neira, a picturesque small island in the Banda Archipelago. This region was once the world’s only source of nutmeg and mace. The Dutch secured the coveted nutmeg trade in the 17th Century, thus, changing the course of Indonesian history, but not without resistance. They also changed to course of world history. Despite their illustrious past, Banda Neira is a place where time seems to have stood still. We spend the next two nights anchored off this charming town.


Day 5 | Banda Neira & Banda Besar

We visit Banda Besar and the nutmeg plantation of Pongky Van den Broeke, the world’s last perkeneer followed by a visit to a nearby old nutmeg forest with breathtaking ocean views. A cooking class back on deck follows, then snorkelling. Late afternoon we enjoy a walk around the charming Banda Neira township, visiting Fort Belgica, the Hatta cottage and the Governor’s Palace. Dinner at the majestic Maulana Hotel follows where we meet Mita Alwi, granddaughter of the late Des Alwi, affectionately named the ‘King’ of Banda Neira.

Day 6 | Banda Neira  & Banda Besar

After a morning walk, exploring Banda Neira, we enjoy a cooking class at the Nutmeg Tree Hotel owned by local personality, Reza Tuasikal. Papaya flowers, fish in light turmeric broth, eggplant with
kenari nut sambal and mint-fish patties are part of the menu. The afternoon is for relaxing and snorkelling.


Morning snorkelling in Lava Flow, one of Banda Neira’s iconic spots. Cooking class on deck. Free time to explore the island and continue to one of the best snorkelling spots on Hatta Island

Day 8 | Hatta Island

We sail to nearby Hatta Island and enjoy a morning snorkel to enjoy this pristine underwater garden, followed by a stroll through this quiet village. We sail overnight to Molana Island, a glorious deserted island.

Day 9 | Molana Island

We swim and snorkel at Molana Island. After our last cooking class on deck, we enjoy a BBQ on the sand under the stars. After dinner, we set sail back to Tulehu, Ambon.

Day 10 | Ambon – Denpasar

After breakfast on the deck, and a wrap-up of our voyage into 17th-century Indonesia, we will say goodbye to the crew before transferring you to Ambon airport for your onward travel.


For more details please email: :

Arum Christina | email: pa@janetdeneefe.com | +62815 5880 9212 Click Here for prices and detailed tour information